Union Minister for Rural Development Birender Singh has said that is ministry has released a central share of Rs. 12,230 crore to the states for implementation of its flagship programmes under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
Singh also underlined that this fund release will take care of the pending wage liability of the states for the previous Financial Year (2015-16) and help them to run the programme during fiscal 2016-17.
He reiterated that the government is committed to ensuring the flow of adequate resources for fulfilling the objectives of the programme.
The ministry has also decided to maintain 60:40 wage-material ratio at the district-level now to ensure creation of good quality assets in the rural areas.
Rebutting the reports published in a section of media that there are arrears of wages of over Rs. 8000 crore under MGNREGA for the 2015-2016 financial year, Singh said, in fact, the year 2015-16 has registered expenditure under MGNREGA to the tune of Rs. 41,371 crore, which is the highest expenditure under the programme since its inception.
Out of this expenditure Rs.30,139 crore has gone towards payment of wages. This has allowed for the highest employment generation over the past three years and the best achievement on key parameters over the last three years such as works taken up, women participation (55 percent) and 95 percent of payments through electronic fund management system.
The minister further emphasized that the Ministry of Rural Development has brought large scale reforms in the implementation of the programme in such a manner that it is oriented more towards combating the agrarian distress and meet the demand for work in drought affected areas creating durable and income generating assets mostly linked to augmentation of irrigation potential.
In the year 2015-16, states were asked to provide employment where needed, particularly drought affected areas, with the assurance of making required resources available.
The ministry expanded the entitlement from 100 to 150 days of work to households in drought affected regions of ten states. 20.48 Lakh households in these regions have availed this opportunity and completed more than 100 days of work.
At the national level 44 Lakh households have completed 100 days. To further bring down the delay in payment of wages, the Ministry in line with the Cabinet decision has introduced National electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS) in the current financial year.